Michael Cullen is one of the most successful drivers in the history of Mondello Park. He practically dominated a number of saloon series, against top class opposition in the mid to late 90s. He went on to win in the UK Fiesta series, became the European Ferrari Champion, and even starred in a Shell commercial, below, driving the ex Schumacher Ferrari F199 around Monaco!
After a few years off to concentrate on business, Michael returned. Reunited with his Murray Motorsport squad, he competed in the SEAT Supercup Ireland Ireland, and typically got involved in a few scuffles, as if to announce his return! Since then he had competed in the Fiesta ST series, and was a shoe in for the 2018 title before a failed wheel bearing stymied his challenge in the final round. In recent times, he has been right at the sharp end of the Appendix K Mini battles in his Snetterton Speed Shop tended Cooper S, complete with “Des Cullen Cars” rear window sticker and period Irish registration plates.
Out of the blue this year, he decided to join the popular Irish Stryker class, having taken a win last year in the series in a borrowed car. Murray Motorsport sourced and prepared a car for him and typically, he was on the pace first time out. When I say on the pace, I mean lap record pace, give or take. He will make his 2020 debut in the class at the up and coming Leinster Trophy meeting on September 12/13.
It may not be plain sailing though, as a number of up and coming names showed great pace at the opening Mondello meeting. Dave Reynolds took a pair of impressive wins in the ex Greg Kelly title winning car and will be keen to add to these, whilst Vincent “VW Vinny” O’Rourke belied his relative lack of experience by leading both races early on. Adrian Deasy, a former rally Co-Driver has excelled since joining the class a couple of years ago and he was right in the mix too. If it rains, Des Bruton’s many years of experience always ensures he is at the sharp end and Dominic Ryan and Des Meehan won’t be far away either. Roger Welaratne also returns to the class for this meeting, his first of 2020, as does Murray Motorsport’s Niall McFadden. Class newbies John Burke and Stephen Kelly are both preparation experts and are bound to keep improving too- so the Stryker races should be well worth watching in just over a week’s time at Mondello Park.